Wild Mushroom Butter

Here is a partial list of things that I have put this butter on: Bread, bagels, cornbread, burgers, steak, lamb, salmon, turkey, chicken, potatoes, rice, do I need to keep listing things? This butter basically goes with everything. Anything you could conceivably put butter on. Whenever I am grilling and I have some of this butter around, I put it on the table and people put in on just about everything. I once made a grilled leg of lamb and had someone declare that the rather spectacular lamb was just a vehicle for this butter. It is just that good. Drop a pat of this butter in scrambled eggs. Toss a little with some spaghetti. I have made a meal out of nothing but toast and this butter and felt like I was treating myself to something completely extravagant. (Oh, bakery fresh bread with this butter, some sauteed greens and a crispy fried egg on top is damn near a religious experience.)

And the best part is that this recipe comes together like nothing. Especially if you have a food processor to do the mushroom chopping for you. A mix of mushrooms is always good. There is a vendor at the farmer’s market here who sells a big bag of crimini, shitake, oyster and portabello mixed together and that is an awesome mix for this butter, but the mix is not necessary. You can make killer good butter with just one mushroom in the mix. The most common mushroom I have on hand is crimini and I often make it with just those and never have any regrets. (Though I do dream of the day that I finally go pick some morels and make this butter with those. Seriously, I dreamt about it once.)

I made some slight adjustments to the original, but not much. Barbara Lynch is a brilliant chef and her recipe here is on point. Since I was squeezing fresh lemon juice for this, I added a little lemon zest because why not and I use a little less salt than she calls for because I just don’t think it needs it. (For the record, she calls for a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a 1/4 teaspoon of pepper stirred into the final mix. I say a pinch to taste.) Also, unless I am making it for a large gathering, I generally halve her recipe and the halved version is what I give you here because a gal can only eat so much butter. No, should is the word I was looking for, a gal should only eat so much butter.

Wild Mushroom Butter
(adapted from Barbara Lynch)

1 stick of butter at room temperature*
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 oz. wild mushrooms, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 small shallot, finely chopped
1/2 large clove of garlic, finely chopped**
1 teaspoon flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Sea salt***
Pepper

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and let them cook untouched for a few minutes to brown. Then add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are richly browned, have released their liquid and that liquid has evaporated (six to eight minutes depending on the heat and the pan you are using). Remove the skillet from the heat and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside to let the mushroom mixture cool.

Once the mushroom mixture has cooled, stir in the herbs, zest and lemon juice. Add the butter and mash together with a fork until thoroughly blended. Taste and add salt and pepper as and if needed then mash to incorporate. To store the butter, you can roll it into a log and wrap it in wax paper or just spread it into a dish and seal it. Butter will keep in the fridge for two weeks or the freezer for four weeks. (If freezing, definitely roll it into a log and then wrap it in plastic wrap.)

*********************************

* Never try to speed up the butter softening process. This is a place for patience. Take the butter out first and chop it into pieces. It will soften quicker in pieces than if you leave the stick whole. When a fork easily mashes through the butter, you are good to go.

** Remember that garlic mojo that I made for the guacamole in a previous post. I used a 1/2 teaspoon of that instead of chopping fresh garlic and there was definitely nothing wrong with that decision.

*** Break out the good salt for this. Maldon’s or some other fancy salt. Have you never bought a fancy salt? Buy a fancy salt and put it on everything. You only live once and you’ll learn quickly what dishes truly benefit from a high quality salt and what dishes really don’t need it. For some dishes, the quality of the salt has no impact and for some, like this one, it really does.

**** Sometimes when making this, I will double everything except the butter, stir the herbs, zest and lemon juice into the cooked mushroom mix, and then split that in half. Half gets mixed with the butter and the other half immediately gets tosses with some pasta and olive oil for a light meal.

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